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Just days left to cast Oak Harbor school levy ballots

Voters on North Whidbey only have a couple of days to decide whether to approve a tax measure that will give the Oak Harbor School District millions of dollars in taxpayer funds.

The deadline for the levy election is Tuesday. Ballots either have to be postmarked by Feb. 12, or dropped in one of four drop boxes by 8 p.m.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Island County Auditor’s Office had received 10,733 ballots for levy proposals in the Oak Harbor School District and the South Whidbey School District, said Michele Reagan, deputy Island County auditor.

The county had mailed out approximately 31,000 ballots to voters in both districts weeks earlier.

For the Oak Harbor School District, the levy would bring in $7.35 million a year for the next four years.

Approval would increase the levy rate to $1.98 per $1,000 assessed property value, up from the current rate of $1.

An owner of a $250,000 home would pay $495 a year, which is an increase of about $22 a month. The levy needs to pass by a 50 percent simple majority.

School officials have said the proposal would continue to pay the salaries for 20 teachers, seven instructional assistants and 9.5 maintenance and custodial staff. It would also continue funding $700,000 needed for technology upgrades.

The levy’s approval would restore 14 of the 34 teaching positions that have been cut in recent years due to state funding losses. It would fund additional instructional assistants and classroom supplies.

It would also restore the middle school athletic program, after school tutoring and protect existing athletics and activities from almost certain cuts.

The levy provides additional funding for special education, maintenance and custodial, technology upgrades and textbooks.

An approved levy will still place Oak Harbor schools at about half of its levy authority.

The expanded levy would account for approximately 14 percent of expenditures, while the maximum allowed is 28 percent.

Neighboring school districts are at or near the levy maximum.

Volunteers representing Citizens for Better Schools are busy waving signs on busy street corners to rally support for the levy.

In addition to the Oak Harbor levy, the South Whidbey School District is running a technology levy and a maintenance and operations levy Feb. 12.

Ballots have to be postmarked by Feb. 12, or ballots can be placed in drop boxes at the Oak Harbor City Hall entrance, the elections office on N. Main Street in Coupeville, Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland and Ken’s Corner in Clinton. Polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

 

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